Mobility continues to be the demand driver without challenge this year as we see tablet PC sales continue to soar, smartphones remain a hotly demanded device, and the ever-increasing presence of hybrid electric (HEV) and electric only vehicles (EV). There is a connection between these device sectors, beyond consumer electronics (CE), that is supporting feature designs for connecting a consumer's slew of devices.Today we expect to see an announcement from IBM, Honda and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on their joint project for smart charging Honda's 2013 Fit EV without taxing the power grid (see this report from Environmental Leader). The connected life just took a step closer to the consumer with the ability to connect and "smartly" determine optimal recharging times and locations for their EVs, at least for this presently limited pilot group of Honda 2013 Fit EVs and in PG&E's selected locations in California.
More than just an EV and energy awareness moment, this exciting smart grid and smart charging program holds promise for the continued increase in semiconductor penetration. Consumers will see demonstrated a further expansion of the capabilities of their devices (from vehicles to handhelds). Through device connections via their smartphone or tablet, a new set of interconnects is available that help consumers manage the demands on their time and money, such as recharging their EVs in a convenient, cost-effective manner.
On a more technical side of the increase in smart data connections for EVs, Texas Instruments (TI) has announced an agreement to have Cygnus Electronics create a power line communication (PLC) hardware and software platform for EVs that will transmit information during charging (see this brief release by EETimes). This system "uses a TI PLC chipset comprised of an optimized OFDM C2000™ Piccolo™ microcontroller (TMS320F28069) and an integrated analog front end AFE031, which integrates more than 100 discrete devices," according to the release. Smart grid expansion and adoption is also on the rise from smart thermostats, such as Nest, to these latest examples of getting consumers involved with demand management planning. The joint work by IBM, Honda and PG&E, the integrated chipsets from TI, the advances in thermostat technology, are just some of the many examples of the suite of electronic solutions that are gaining traction in the utility and energy sector (see here for more on TI's Smart Grid solution suite).
While we may still not be to the point of a completely connected, electronic future as envisioned in Hanna Barbera's The Jetsons cartoon almost fifty years ago, these recent examples of design and device connectivity underscore the momentum for getting to the point of a connected life.